I have nothing against Kevin Leach personally, but he is everything that is wrong with Michigan’s program.
Let me explain. It is not so much Leach himself that is the issue (in fact, not really at all), but his presence in the starting lineup for the Wolverines that says so much about the team’s ills this season. Leach started at middle linebacker over Obi Ezeh, a former freshman All-American and three-yard starter who appears to have regressed this season, like several other Michigan players. Leach is a redshirt sophomore walk-on, weighs just 206 pounds, and showed up to Saturday’s game in what appeared to be a replica Steven Threet jersey with no name on the back.
Meanwhile, Ezeh sat on the sidelines, along with J.B. Fitzgerald and Kenny Demens, four-star linebackers who can’t crack the lineup of the nation’s 81st-ranked defense.
What makes this situation even worse? Leach was one of the better Wolverines on the field Saturday, tallying 11 tackles and a sack.
It’s tough for me to get truly pissed off at Rich Rodriguez when this is what the team has to work with. Jay Hopson? Well, that’s another story, but if you really think that firing a position coach or two is going to change the direction of this program, I have some volcano insurance to sell you.
Yes, the offense sputtered terribly, but this is still an outfit being run by a true freshman quarterback, standing behind a makeshift line that lost its best player, handing the ball off to two senior running backs who can’t stay healthy and throwing the ball to a group of receivers that can’t stretch the field vertically. I don’t see much in that situation that falls on the shoulders of the head coach.
The defense sucks, plain and simple. The defense also now starts two walk-ons (underclassmen walk-ons at that), has just two senior starters, and has such little depth at every position that the defense is designed to need no situational substitutions (whether that is coincidence or not, I don’t know, but it sure as hell is necessary). Does the blame for that situation fall on a second-year head coach who has all of 1 1/2 recruiting classes under his belt? I don’t think so.
Who we blame at this point is largely irrelevant — firing Rich Rodriguez would only serve to set the program back a few more seasons, and I still think he’s the man to turn this program around; Lloyd Carr is retired; Bill Martin is a year away from joining Carr; the players are all college students. What is relevant is the need for patience. Programs don’t turn around overnight, and regardless of your thoughts on Rodriguez, this team was going to be in trouble no matter who took over for Carr — yes, Rodriguez’s style of play accentuated the team’s shortcomings, but those shortcomings were still present before he took over.
I’m just going to blame number 10 in white — not Kevin Leach, just number 10 in white.